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    Articulation: A Clearer Picture or a New View?

    Integrated Articulation and Credit Transfer (IACT) Project

    Paez D, Jackson A, Byrnes J, Dwyer C, Blacker J

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    The Integrated Articulation

    and Credit Transfer Project is

    a Department of Education,

    Employment and Workplace

    Relations funded project, led

    by the University of Southern

    Queensland in collaboration

    with the Department of

    Education and Training

    Queensland, Australian

    Council for Private Education

    and Training, and Careers

    Australia Group.

    A DEEWR Diversity and

    Structural Adjustment Project

    © 2011

    This document is available for

    download at

    together with other information

    about the IACT Project.

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    Table of Contents

    1 Key Messages 4

    1.1 Definition of Terms 7

    1.2 Acronyms used in this report 8

    2 Introduction 9

    2.1 The Issues 9

    2.2 Background to the IACT Project 11

    2.3 The IACT Project 13

    3 The 3D Focus on Articulation Pathways 15

    3.1 Underlying Principles 15

    3.1.1 Overview Of The Resources 17

    3.2 Australian Industry Profits by Acquiring Employees Who Meet Skills Needs 19

    3.2.1 The Workforce Driven Engagement Model 19

    3.3 Tertiary Education Profits from Offering Graduate Outcomes That Meet Skills Needs 22

    3.3.1 The Corporate Strategy Approach to Articulation 22

    3.3.2 Articulation Pathway Models: A Visual Guide 27

    3.3.3 Content Mapping for VET to He Credit Transfer 29

    3.4 Graduates Profit from Gaining Qualifications That Meet Skills Needs 31

    3.4.1 Student Pathway Options (Flowcharts) 31

    3.4.2 Student Transition Factors 33

    4 Conclusions 36

    5 References 37

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    1. Key Messages

    The Integrated Articulation and Credit Transfer (IACT) project was instigated in response to Australian

    Government efforts to address Australia’s workforce and skills shortage issues by strengthening the connection

    between industry, the higher education (HE) sector and the vocational education and training (VET) sector.

    Concern about the lack of connection, or ‘articulation’, between the VET and HE sectors has been expressed

    for some thirty years and arises from issues about access and equity, efficiency, views about the roles of

    the different sectors, and providing pathways between them (PhillipsKPA, 2006b, p. 54).

    The aim of the IACT project was to find ways to remove barriers to articulation between the VET and HE

    education sectors, and to assist VET, HE and industry stakeholders to improve the efficiency and effectiveness

    (or ‘seamlessness’) of articulation pathways for all stakeholders.

    The lack of articulation, and consequently the potential for transfer of credit for previous learning, between

    the VET and HE education sectors is an issue which has eluded resolution by governments, tertiary education

    providers and employers, proving largely resistant to attempts to overcome the many barriers between the

    sectors. PhillipsKPA (2006a, p. 4) comment that:

    Credit transfer is a complex issue and there are no easy answers to how credit transfer

    outcomes might be improved.

    Whilst acknowledging that the answers are not easy, the IACT Project has sought to provide some of the

    answers by testing and documenting practical strategies to improve credit transfer outcomes between the

    sectors. Using an applied approach, the project has explored the rapidly evolving world of engagement

    between the VET, HE and employer (industry) sectors, and what is driving this evolution.

    The IACT Project has resulted in the innovative application of a three dimensional (3D) focus to what has

    historically been a two dimensional dynamic. Structured articulation pathways and linkages between the

    three key stakeholders (industry, VET and HE) are a significant factor in developing education and training

    solutions in line with Australian industry and economic needs.

    The benefits of this methodology include:

    • industry gains graduate employees with targeted skills to meet workforce planning and skills gaps;

    • tertiary education providers benefit from being able to offer workforce aligned outcomes to students;


    • students benefit from workforce aligned qualifications that enhance career opportunities.

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    The three key messages from the IACT research are as follows.

    Key Message 1:

    Australian industry profits by acquiring employees who meet skills needs.

    Workforce needs can be a key driver in the development of articulation pathways between VET and HE,

    because employers need graduates with the right skills and the right mix of knowledge and skills. The

    ideal outcome for industry, existing employees, and students in many employment areas is an articulation

    pathway from the lower levels of VET to the upper levels of HE, aligned to the job outcomes within each

    unique industry sector.

    A 3D articulation pathway provides students and employers with a clear, job-oriented career track with multiple

    entry and exit points to career outcomes/stages. Employees are potentially both VET and HE qualified.

    Some 11% of people who obtain VET qualifications subsequently acquire a degree (Australian Bureau of

    Statistics, 2011). University qualified graduates may also gain VET qualifications after their degree, to obtain

    specific practical skills. The idea that returning to VET after HE means ‘going backwards’ is outmoded

    and irrelevant to the modern workforce. Approximately 14% of people who attain a Bachelors degree as

    their first qualification subsequently attain a vocational qualification (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2011).

    The development of a tertiary education culture of 3D stakeholder engagement involving VET, HE and

    industry is the topic of Resource 1: The Workforce Driven Engagement Model.

    Key Message 2:

    Tertiary education profits from offering graduate outcomes that meet skills needs.

    A focus on industry needs is not by itself a sufficient solution to the issues of improving articulation pathways

    for all stakeholders. Other interventions are also important at a range of levels.

    As envisaged by PhillipsKPA (PhillipsKPA, 2006a), the IACT project has confirmed that the development

    of a strategic corporate approach to managing VET/HE relationships translates to improved pathways for

    students and increased opportunities for tertiary education providers, and in addition is more cost effective

    for institutions than the ‘ad hoc’ approach used in most institutions. In addition, developing collaborative

    relationships between VET and HE on a basis of mutual respect provides the structural relationship required

    to engage with industry and thereby meet skills shortages.

    A corporate strategy approach to articulation focuses on strategic interventions recommended for educational

    institutions to meet the AQF Qualifications Pathways Policy principles on credit transfer, and to improve the

    efficiency and effectiveness of their ‘business model’ of articulation and credit transfer. The development of

    a corporate strategy approach within tertiary institutions is the topic of Resource 2: The Corporate Strategy

    Approach to Articulation.

    The IACT project investigated models of articulation currently in use across tertiary education organisations

    as a basis for articulation arrangements. There were many models in common, but there were some that

    showed that tertiary providers were thinking innovatively and attempting to design arrangements that benefit

    both students and providers. However the IACT project found that there had been no attempt to document

    the variations in articulation models that were available or possible. Industry collaboration in articulation and

    credit transfer arrangements was not commonly occurring, and the project found that by involving industry in

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    the development of articulation pathways, more effective outcomes and relationships could be formed. The

    development of Resource 3:Articulation Pathway Models: A Visual Guide is intended for use as a reference

    tool in negotiations about articulation pathway development options between all appropriate stakeholders.

    IACT research found that content mapping was the basis to credit transfer and consequent articulation

    pathways and arrangements between organisations. The IACT project undertook an investigation of content

    mapping including wh